Safe Digging MonthWith the month of March coming to an end and April starting to get under way, it’s critically important to consider the safety implications of outdoor projects being conducted in many parts of the United States.

As a proud member of the Common Ground Alliance (CGA), AEM supports National Safe Digging Month and asks its 1,000-plus members to spread awareness of the need to call 811 before any digging projects – no exceptions.

“Even as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic impacts communities across the country and across the globe, we want to make sure the message of safety as it relates to digging is not overlooked,” said AEM Technical and Safety Services Manager William "Bernie" Bernhard. “We need to wake up every day, 365 days a year, with a commitment to being safety conscious. Safe machinery operation and job preparation saves lives, and all industry stakeholders contribute to the success of any utility excavation or installation.”

According to CGA, nearly 40% of homeowners won’t call 811 before digging this year, putting themselves and their communities at risk. That fact underscores the need for National Safe Digging Month to raise awareness to the issue of underground line safety and help reduce the risk of unnecessary infrastructure damage.

With that fact in mind, AEM encourages everyone planning a digging project to take the following steps:

  • Always call 811 a few days in advance of a digging project, no matter the depth or familiarity with the property.
  •  Plan ahead and provide ample time for the approximate location of lines to be marked.
  •  Confirm all lines have been marked with the one-call service, and look for evidence of any utilities that may have been missed, as well as ensure all underground utilities are located prior to excavating.
  •  Strongly consider moving the location of the project if it’s near utility line markings.
  •  Know the tolerance zone in the state where the project is taking place. Only soft excavation should be done in the tolerance zone.
  •  If a contractor has been hired, confirm a call to 811 has been made, and don’t allow work to begin if lines haven’t been marked.
  •  Each and every state offers its own 811 call center to help with digging efforts, and 811 representatives take information about impending projects and notify appropriate utility companies to mark buried lines so digging can safely occur around them.

AEM Supports Safe Digging

AEM works diligently to promote 811 in a variety of different ways, including:

  •  AEM Safety Manuals provide information on how to use “Call 811”
  •  AEM member companies promote “Call 811” on their websites and through advertisement sliders and editorials
  •  Manufacturers place “Call 811” signage on their equipment
  •  Manufacturers post “811 Know What’s Below” stickers on their equipment
  •  References and instructions to “Call 811” are printed in their equipment operator’s manuals
  •  “Call 811” is mentioned in every safety video that involves breaking ground
  •  “Call 811” is mentioned in safety toolbox talks
  •  “Call 811” events are posted on social media outlets
  •  Attend and present as industry experts at 811 events
  •  Attend and present as industry stakeholders at CGA conferences
  •  Participate in the CGA Best Practices committee
  •  Use CGA’s website and marketing materials

AEM and its members are committed to safety, and AEM assists manufacturers and the off-road equipment industry in fostering safety best practices through the association’s extensive array of safety manuals, videos and related training materials.

For more information, check out CGA’s National Safe Digging Month toolkit  or contact AEM’s William “Bernie” Bernhard at wbernhard@aem.org

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